TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Thousands of Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans poured into the streets late Sunday night to celebrate the team’s historic Super Bowl LV win at home over Kansas City.
Many of the fans were not wearing masks, many were clearly intoxicated and a few became dangerous and destructive.
“Downtown became gridlocked with cars, people honking their horns and celebrating,” Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said. “When you look at the big picture, the thousands of people who were celebrating, it’s a very small group where we had problems.”
Tampa police recorded only 18 arrests that were related to the Super Bowl celebration, although police did not arrest all they could.
Hours after the game ended, a large group of officers moved into the Ashley Street area when revelers started jumping on cars and destroying property. However, officers only moved in to break up the crowd. They did not attempt to arrest people for every violation they witnessed, and no one was cited for not wearing a mask.
“We were stretched thin, the officers were working 15, 16-hour days and we did the best we could,” Dugan said. “And I do think, overall, it went well.”
The Tampa police chief recently recovered from COVID-19 himself and says it would be impossible for his officers to enforce the mask mandate under the conditions they faced Sunday night.
“I get everybody’s concern about the masks but at some point, if you are uncomfortable in a situation, you have a personal obligation to leave,” Dugan said.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor says she’s very pleased with the way the city handled the Super Bowl and the celebration after the win.
“We had literally tens of thousands share in the excitement of the Super Bowl win and the majority of them did it very, very peacefully,” Castor said.
The mayor says the city is still in negotiations to plan a celebration for the Buccaneers’ victory, but she believes it will be a safe event.
“We’re looking at the best option that will allow the most individuals to participate in the celebration and do it safely,” she said.